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A Well-written Account of Nature's Power,
This review is from: The Power of the Sea: Tsunamis, Storm Surges, Rogue Waves, and Our Quest to Predict Disasters (MacSci) (Hardcover)
I have always loved the sea, even though I grew up far from it in the middle of the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. My first trips to the Gulf of California and later to the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, the Atlantic and the Pacific, were all wonderful. I was never bored by the sea. However the sea can be vicious (from our point of view) and tsunamis, storm surges caused by hurricanes and northeasters, and the once near mythical rogue waves, are among the most destructive natural phenomena known, sometimes causing hundreds of thousands of deaths in one event, as in the Bay of Bengal on a number of occasions.
Bruce Parker has researched and collected the harrowing stories of such rampant destruction in his recent book "The Power of the Sea" and this is a book that almost literally rivets you to the pages. He brings up little-known facts- like how the Queen Mary, along with 16,500 crew, U.S. soldiers and nurses, nearly was sunk by a rogue wave in 1942; how human error and arrogance prevented Galveston, Texas, from being warned by an eerily accurate prediction from Cuba just before 6000 people were killed when the hurricane storm surge destroyed the city in 1900; and how England rethought its lack of a warning system when the surge from a northeaster in 1953 caused the death of over 300 people in London, with almost unimaginable losses of livestock and crops in the nearby countryside. The most recent disaster in the U.S.- the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina, and two terrible disasters in the Bay of Bengal (the cyclone that hit Bengal in 1970, and that led to the war for independence for East Pakistan, and Cyclone Nargis in 2008 that devastated Burma), are shown to be at least in large part because of political error, as the science even in 1970 was more advanced than it was in 1953 and both storms' death tolls could have been much lower. All of these are explained and described in this not easily forgotten volume. Finally there is a two chapter account of the deadly tsunami in 2004 that devastated western Sumatra and also killed a number of people in the nearby islands, as well as Thailand and Sri Lanka, finally causing a number of deaths in Somalia and a few more along the African coast, eventually reaching the Atlantic and Brazil, thousands of miles away from the epicenter of the massive earth quake that caused it. This is by far the best account of that terrible day that I have read.
If you are at all interested in the sea and its mysteries you should read this book. I highly recommend it!